“Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work”
Participating in Family History and temple work helps us develop a greater appreciation of the importance and blessing of being part of an eternal family. Hearts of descendants are turned to their ancestors, the hearts of ancestors are turned to their descendants, and hearts of parents and children turn to one another in love and fellowship that binds them together in happiness.
In our previous lesson, we discussed temple attendance and performance of priesthood ordinances for loved ones. Today, we will review other ways in which we can expand our participation in temple and family history activities to benefit ourselves and others.
Simply expressed, when we as Latter-day Saints speak of the “Spirit of Elijah”, we are referring to the desire people possess to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” (D&C 110:15). This desire is so named because Elijah was the restorer of the sealing keys which he gave to Joseph Smith (D&C 110:13-16). By virtue of that priesthood power, families may be sealed together for eternity.
The Spirit of Elijah influences members to:
· Receive temple ordinances for ourselves
· Perform family history research
· Attend the temple to receive ordinances on behalf of the deceased
President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized: “All of our vast family history endeavor is directed to temple work. There is no other purpose for it. The temple ordinances become the crowning blessings the Church has to offer” (Ensign, May 1998, 88).
Throughout the world, genealogy has become a popular hobby, especially since the Internet has improved the ability of individuals and groups to research and exchange information online without leaving their homes. The Spirit of Elijah is motivating people to engage in family history research. Just in 2001, the Church announced the completion of multi-year projects which computerized records that contain all of the names of those who came through Ellis Island in New York, and the African-American treasure of almost 500,000 family records associated with the Freedman’s Bank in Washington, D.C. Both helped open records to millions of descendants.
President Boyd K. Packer said, “No work is more of a protection to this church than temple work and the genealogical research that supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power” (Ensign, Feb. 1995, 36).
Some way to participate in family history research and temple work is available to each of us throughout all stages of our lives. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “In the work of redeeming the dead there are many tasks to be performed, and…all members should participate by prayerfully selecting those ways that fit their personal circumstances at a particular time…Our effort is not to compel everyone to do everything, but to encourage everyone to do something” (Ensign, June 1989, 6). In class, you may wish to volunteer some ideas on different ways in which you have participated in the work at various stages of life.
Assure that you keep a current temple recommend and take the opportunity to attend the temple often
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I urge our people everywhere, with all of the persuasiveness of which I am capable, to live worthy to hold a temple recommend, to secure one and regard it as a precious asset, and to make a greater effort to go to the house of the Lord and partake of the spirit and the blessings to be had therein. I am satisfied that every man or woman who goes to the temple in a spirit of sincerity and faith leaves the house of the Lord a better man or woman. There is need occasionally to leave the noise and the tumult of the world and step within the walls of a sacred house of God, there to feel His spirit in an environment of holiness and peace” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 53).
Even where circumstances do not permit frequent attendance at the temple, we should hold a current temple recommend. President Howard W. Hunter said: “It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8).
Parents can teach children about the importance of the temple by:
· Attending the temple regularly or actively working toward attending (set an example)
· Teach children about the temples and the blessings that are available at the temple
· Give children 12 or older to the temple to be baptized for deceased ancestors
Prepare to have temple ordinances performed for your deceased relatives
· Identify deceased relatives
· List those whom you remember
· Examine family records
· Interview parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, for information on ancestors
· Use Church-produced computer programs at home and the Family History Centers to help
· Petition the Lord to have the Spirit help you in finding ways to identify deceased relatives
· Exercise faith and be persistent and diligent
· Record the information found on family history forms, pedigree charts, and family group sheets
· If an ancestor was the recipient of priesthood ordinances before death, record the dates of those ordinances
· Ask family history consultants in the ward and stake to help prepare information for temple submission. Local priesthood leaders should also have information on how to prepare records.
Elder Richard G. Scott counseled: “Arrange to participate for deceased ancestors in the sealing and other ordinances…I find it helpful when receiving ordinances for another to try and relate to that person specifically. I think of him and pray that he will accept the ordinance and benefit from it. Do these things with a prayer in your heart that the Holy Spirit will enhance your understanding and enrich your life. Those worthy prayers will be answered” (Ensign, May 1999, 27).
Learn about the lives of your ancestors
Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander told of his responsibility to teach his children and grandchildren about his family’s history: “Not one of my children has any recollection of my grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. I alone am the link to the generations that stand on either side of me. It is my responsibility to knit their hearts together through love and respect, even though they may never have known each other personally. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their family’s history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I do not in some way record will be lost at my death, and that which I do not pass on to my posterity, they will never have. The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility. It cannot be passed off or given to another” (Ensign, May 1999, 83-84).
Keep a journal or personal history or family history
This effort will bless us in later life if we can refer back to faith-promoting events in our own lives and it will bless our descendants as they are able to read our testimony as they experience challenges in their lives.
· A Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work (34697)
· Family History forms (pedigree charts and family group sheets)
· Computer programs (Personal Ancestral File)
· Resources on the Internet such as www.familysearch.org
· Family History Centers
Lessons are found on the Internet at www.neumanninstitute.org